Eric Akis: Deluxe cheeseburgers feature zesty homemade sauce

Eric Akis

If you having a craving for a fast-food-chain burger, you know the type, with two patties, cheese, a middle layer of bun, sauce, pickles and onions, drive past the drive-thru. Instead, go to some local food stores and fetch ingredients to make your own double-decker cheeseburger. A grand tasting one with substance and local flare, not the empty calorie, often-tepid burger you’ll get served through a takeout window.

That’s the approach I took in today’s recipe that features Vancouver Island cheese, buns, baby salad greens and ground beef. You’ll find the first two items at many local grocery stores, the salad greens at smaller food stores and farm markets, and the ground beef at some butcher shops and also at some smaller food stores.

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The buns I used (see recipe Note 2) were tall enough to cut a slice out of the middle of them, creating a bottom bun, middle piece of bun and top bun for the burgers.

To make the burgers, I topped each bottom and middle piece of bun with salad greens and my version of burger sauce. The latter is a flavourful, easy-to-make sauce that blends condiments you most often apply separately on a burger, such as mayonnaise, ketchup, relish and mustard, along with some seasonings.

The bottom buns were then topped with grilled beef patties, which in turn were topped with cheese, diced fried onions and pickles. The middle buns were set on and then they were each topped with another cheese-, onion- and pickle-topped patty.

The top buns were then set in place and these beauty burgers were ready to devour. A hearty, substantial, rich and tasty kind of burger you’ll definitely need to grab with two hands to eat.

Double-Decker Cheeseburgers

These full-of-flavour burgers each feature two grilled patties, tangy cheese, crunchy pickles and a zesty homemade burger sauce.

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 10-11 minutes

Makes: two servings

2 tall hamburger buns (see Note 1)

1 tsp butter

1/3 cup finely diced onion

12 to 14 oz. (340 to 400 grams) Vancouver Island or other lean ground beef

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

• vegetable oil, for the grill

50 to 75 grams aged Farmhouse cheese or aged Canadian cheddar cheese, thinly sliced (see Note 2)

• burger sauce, to taste (see Note 3)

• B.C. grown baby mixed salad greens, or thinly shredded leaf lettuce, to taste

• thinly sliced dill pickles, to taste

With a sharp serrated knife, carefully cut a half-inch thick, crosswise slice out of the centre of each bun, creating two middle pieces of bun. Stack the bottom, middle and top pieces of bun together again, place in a bag and set them aside for now.

Melt the butter in a small skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until tender, about four to five minutes. Remove skillet from the heat.

Preheat your barbecue to medium-high (about 425 to 450 F in the chamber). With cold-water-moistened hands, divide and form the ground beef into four equal, loose balls. Now shape each ball into a thin patty as wide as your buns. Season the patties with salt and pepper.

Lightly oil the bars of the grill. Set on the patties and cook about three minutes per side, or until entirely cooked through. Top each patty with some cheese slices and fried onions. Turn off the barbecue and let the patties sit there until your buns are ready.

Spread the top of each bottom bun, and each middle piece of bun, with burger sauce. Top each bottom bun and middle piece of bun with salad greens (or shredded lettuce). Set a burger patty on each bottom bun, set on a few sliced pickles, and then top with a middle piece of bun. Now set a burger patty on each middle piece of bun. Set a few pickles on each of those patties, set on the top pieces of bun, and serve.

Note 1: The buns I used were the deluxe brioche buns made by Saanichton-based Portofino Bakery, who sell their products at food stores around the Island. Choose the tallest ones for these burgers. Freeze the rest for another time, unless you plan to use them in the next day or two.

Note 2: Aged Farmhouse cheese is made by Vancouver Island’s Natural Pastures Cheese Company. You’ll find it for sale at many Island food stores.

Note 3: To make burger sauce, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 Tbsp ketchup, 2 Tbsp sweet green relish, 1 1/2 tsp yellow mustard, 1/8 tsp onion powder, 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp smoked paprika and tiny pinch ground cayenne pepper in a jar. Seal jar and refrigerate sauce until needed for the burgers.

Eric’s options: If you want to warm the buns before filling them, after slicing them, wrap each one in foil and warm a few minutes on the barbecue.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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